A private jet firm says it's seen more than 600 searches for flights out of SA since Omicron
- The newly-discovered Omicron variant of Covid-19 has the wealthy looking to leave South Africa.
- Searches for private jet flights have increased to more than 600 inquires in one week's time for one company.
- Only a select type of private jet can fly non-stop from South Africa to places like the East Coast of the US.
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Southern Africa is among the latest Covid-19 hotspots following the detection of a new variant, named Omicron by the World Health Organisation, that has prompted new travel restrictions from countries including the US and the UK.
And while the variant already has already been detected outside of southern Africa, travellers are looking to leave the region and the wealthy are once again turning to private jets for safe passage. Searches for private jet flights are breaking records for some companies specialising in private aircraft charter.
"Our private jet cost calculator has recorded over 600 departure queries out of Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban since November 21, which is more than the total number of queries recorded in the nine months prior," private aircraft charter brokerage EvoJets told Insider.
"Of the 600+ departures recorded out of those cities, the top destinations were Sydney, London, and Auckland, and 92% of the requests were one-way flights," EvoJets said.
EvoJets did not say how many searches turned to bookings but one-way bookings on short notice to far-off destinations are expensive. Only a select type of private aircraft have the range to fly non-stop between southern Africa and those cities, and only a select few private airlines have those aircraft in their fleets.
Private aviation is one of the few choices left for travellers looking to leave southern Africa as some global airlines are refusing to take passengers from the region. Qatar Airways and Emirates, both of which gained reputations as repatriation airlines early on during the Covid-19 pandemic, are refusing to fly travellers originating in some southern African countries including South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Private aviation has been an increasingly popular method of transportation for the wealthy since the pandemic began and commercial aviation became viewed as inferior from a health safety perspective in their eyes. Repatriation flights accounted for a surge in traffic during the pandemic's early days, and health safety concerns have turned first-time flyers into repeat customers.
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